Guide to drinking water: 5 reasons why it is important to drink water

By on July 19, 2013
glass-of-water


Here is one of those wow! facts – your body is about 70 percent water.

Your muscles – well, they are about 75 percent water.
Your brain – 90 percent water.
Your blood – it is 83 percent water.

Even your bones are 22 percent water. It stands to reason, therefore, that we need to drink water. And most of us have received that advice from a very young age. We are told to drink water to stay fit and keep healthy.

Of course, most of us know that if we are dehydrated we need to drink. But the reality is that most of us drink everything except water. We have fruit juice and / or coffee at breakfast, then several more cups of tea or coffee throughout the morning. A soft drink is often taken at lunchtime and dinner, and then a glass of wine or beer in the evening. That is lots of drink, but none of it is water.

You get water from all of these beverages, but it is vital that water is taken on its own as well. It is the best thing to keep you hydrated (some of the drinks above are actually diuretics so actually make you pee more often, which means you need to drink more to stay hydrated). It also has the best health benefits.

We don’t drink enough

Guidelines from health professionals and governments say the minimum amount we should all be drinking around five glasses of water a day, or half of your body weight ounces (If you are 200 lbs, drink 100oz of water throughout the day). The reasons for that are varied and include general health, well being, and maintaining an ability to fight off infection and disease.

The problem is many people find it hard to drink enough water every day. Some just simply do not like the taste. Some like the taste of water but do not like the taste of the water that comes out of their taps. That means spending money on it which they are not prepared – or cannot afford – to do. Other people don’t drink enough water simply because of the hustle and bustle of daily life. It is just one of those things that gets missed when work is busy, or you are trying to manage a household and a young family.

Help is at hand

Here we have detailed the various benefits of drinking water. The five reasons we have highlighted cover all of the main topics. Then we have a “bonus round” with tips on how to make sure you are drinking enough water each and every day.

 

1. Water Helps You Lose Weight

Weight scale

No point beating around the bush, as the saying goes. Most of us could do with losing a little bit of weight, right? And come on, enough with the excuses already. You are not carrying those few extra pounds because you indulged too much on holiday, or because work is a bit busy at the moment, or because it is not a full moon yet! You are just a bit overweight and it is time to lose the pounds.

So, how can water help? Particularly if you have tried the fad diets – the Paleo Diet, the Atkins Diet, the guy-on-the-TV-said-so diet?

Water is an appetite suppressant.

I know, that is not very scientific and you were probably expecting something much more mind-boggling. But there you have it – sometimes the simplest ideas are the best.

So, here’s how it works:

  1. You feel hungry – but don’t eat!
  2. Drink water instead – and feel those hunger pangs drift away.
  3. Be careful when chilling – this is particularly important when you are doing something like watching television or reading.
  4. If still hungry – then have something to eat!

Watch out for something else as well. Apparently some people think they are hungry when what they are really feeling is thirst. A glass of water is what is needed, but a snack is usually what is taken. It may not affect you, but it does no harm to be aware of the phenomenon.

Just watch this two-minute video for more detail:

No Calories

Water will not pile on the pounds. It contains no calories, carbohydrates, fat or sugar. Of course you can’t live on water alone – we need those calories, carbs, fats and delicious sugars. But they should be part of a balanced diet. Water should be part of that diet.

It can also help to make the exercise you are doing actually work. Unless you are training particularly vigorously or for a particularly long period of time, you do not need an energy drink. They are high in calories. And here is the rib – sometimes the calories in the drink are more than the calories burned during exercise.

One other thing to remember when shedding the pounds is that much of the initial weight loss you achieve is caused by a loss of water in the body. It is therefore essential to make sure you are drinking enough water, if for no other reason than to stay hydrated.

Water also keeps the process of muscle building ticking along smoothly, so it does no harm in that regard either.

Flushes Your Insides

300adWhen you drink enough water your body will not try to retain fluid. That is a good thing. Also, your liver will be in much better shape to metabolize that fat you are storing on your hips and belly.

You see, when you don’t drink enough your liver has to come to the aid of your kidneys to detoxify your body. Plenty of water means your kidneys can work effectively without the extra help, leaving your liver to burn that fat.

Make The Right Choice

Finally, water can help with weight loss if you choose to drink it at meal times or when  you want a snack instead of a high calorie, sugary drink. I know: it doesn’t taste as good. But keep your eye on the goal and sacrifice the pleasure of your taste buds for the pleasure of a slimmer waist.

 

2. Water Makes Your Skin Healthier

healthy-skin Who doesn’t want healthier, younger looking skin? People spend thousands of dollars every year trying to achieve it, with lotions, potions, suctions and injections. Water is not a super cure, but it sure can help.

Water helps skin in several ways

  1. Replenishes skin tissue
  2. Maintains elasticity and suppleness
  3. Ensures skin is hydrated

 

When you drink enough water your skin feels healthier and there are less lines or wrinkles. It glistens and many people feel their skin is glowing when they are drinking enough. It is not something that happens immediately, but over time it can have a really positive effect.

If your skin is moist and supple it will not only feel better, it will also look younger – and all without having to spend your hard-earned cash.

Research in women has found that drinking about seven cups (1.5 liters) of water per day can reduce wrinkles. Twenty percent of women in the study saw an improvement within six weeks. Seven cups of water a day is not even that much. It is one cup less than the recommended minimum!

Retention And Toxins

If you have ever had puffy skin, water could be the cause. Or lack of water is the cause, I should say. When you don’t drink enough, your body retains fluids (water) to conserve resources and make sure it has enough to keep the essential parts of your body functioning  It is this water retention that can make skin look puffy or even bloated.

As for those horrible toxins floating around in our systems, we have already heard that water can help flush them away. This helps with skin health as well, as dirt and bacteria on the skin can be cleared away when you drink the right amount of water every day.

On final thing to remember on this point is about quantity. You need to get enough water, but more than enough is just a waste. Your kidneys get rid of any excess so there is no point drinking too much. That means you cannot just drink loads and loads of water to get rid of those deep lines and wrinkles (sorry!). They will look better if you drink the right amount. But more water does not mean more impact.

 

3. Water Helps Prevent Infections And Other Health Problems

HealthToxins. We come back yet again to those dastardly toxins in our bodies. They build up just by normal day-to-day living through the air we breathe and the food we eat.

The pollution from vehicle emissions gets into our systems, as does the emissions from factories. And, although this is becoming less of a factor due to widespread public smoking bans, second hand tobacco smoke also causes a build up of toxins.

In our food, additives and dyes can leave behind toxins. This is most prevalent in highly processed food, which is the type of food that makes up a significant portion of many people’s diet.

Water helps your system to constantly flush itself out, which removes many of these toxins. You will still get sick, but it is less likely than if you are dehydrated.

Types of illnesses that drinking plenty of water can prevent:

  • The common cold
  • The flu
  • Urinary tract infections
  • Kidney stones

 

Drink Plenty Of Water

glass-of-water

We have all been told by our doctors when sick to get rest and drink plenty of water. Staying hydrated when ill is very important, particularly if the sickness is making you lose fluids. This could be through sweat, diarrhea or vomiting. Water replenishes this fluid that is lost.

It is obvious then, isn’t it? If it is good for us while we are sick it must be good for us when we are well!

There are other afflictions that water can help cure. This particularly applies to conditions of the skin, such as acne or eczema. This has a lot to do with keeping the skin from drying out, which water significantly helps to do.

Skin conditions that water can help alleviate:

  • Acne
  • Eczema
  •  Psoriasis
  • Cracked and dry skin

 

Headaches

This is one of the most common health-related issues that people relate to water, and they are right. Many headaches are the result of being dehydrated. This is typically because the brain does not have enough water sloshing around – it needs that, you see, to function properly – so your head starts to hurt.

Water can even help hangovers!

When you are hung-over you are likely to be dehydrated. That is often where the stomping headache associated with a hangover comes from. Alcohol makes you go to the toilet more often which gets rid of the fluid your body needs. So, like non-alcohol related headaches, the brain has less water than it really needs so starts to hurt.

So what should you do? Stop drinking alcohol? Never! Try this instead:

  1. Drink water before you start drinking alcohol
  2. Drink water while you are drinking (in the same glass doesn’t count though – have a glass between alcoholic drinks periodically)
  3. Drink water after you have drank alcohol

There is a common theme in that list, isn’t there?!

Getting Really Serious Now

Studies have found that drinking water can help to lower your risk of having a heart attack. A study in 2002 found that drinking five or more glasses of water a day led to a 41 percent lower risk of having a heart attack. The study lasted six years so was significant.

Many doctors and scientists also believe it can help those who suffer from back pain.

The risk of getting the big C can even be reduced by drinking enough water. The potential of contracting bladder cancer can be significantly reduced. This was shown in a major study that involved 48,000 men over 10 years. It found that the men who drank 1.5 liters of water a day (about six to seven cups) were at significantly lower risk of contracting bladder cancer than those who drank just 240ml of water a day (about one cup).

One explanation the researchers gave for this result was to do with carcinogens, toxins and other cancer-causing substances in the bladder. These things are ultimately excreted when you urinate. However, when you don’t drink enough water during the day your bladder comes in direct contact with these substances before they are excreted. If you drink sufficient water each day the cancer causing agents are diluted so are less likely to actually touch the walls of your bladder.

Main points:

  • Bladder cancer is the fourth most common cancer
  • It accounts for five percent of all new cancer cases in the US each year
  • The cause of bladder cancer in many people is unknown
  • There is a 49 percent lower risk of bladder cancer if you drink 10.5 cups of water a day instead of 5.4 cups
  • Six is the magic number – drinking 6 or more cups a day lowers the bladder cancer risk by 51 percent compared to people who drink just one cup a day
  • Every little bit helps – each cup of water consumed a day lowers the risk of bladder cancer by 13 percent (other fluids, in place of water, also help, but will only reduce the cancer risk by seven percent)
  • Water is the only fluid that has a specific positive effect

It is also believed that water has a similar effect on colon cancer, and for similar reasons. Studies have found drinking enough water can reduce the risk of contracting colon cancer by as much as 45 percent.

 

4. Water Makes Your Brain Work Better

We have had enough talk about hangovers, younger looking skin and losing weight. Let’s talk about our brains now and how to become smarter.

We have already mentioned headaches and we all know how hard it is to work or study with a pounding headache. So it is important to repeat again that drinking water will help to keep at bay those headaches that are caused by dehydration.

Dehydration can also cause dizziness, another thing that happens up in your head. And of course dizziness is another thing that will stop concentration in its tracks so will prevent work or study.

Get Smart

Smart

Drinking plenty can help with concentration by improving your mental alertness and ability to perform complex tasks. The brain needs oxygen to work. That is not surprising given so much of it is made up of water. To perform at its optimum level water helps the brain get the oxygen it needs. Concentration, mental alertness and cognitive performance have been shown to increase by as much as 30 percent if you drink eight to 10 cups of water a day.

Energy

Another factor with brain function is feeling tired. When you feel tired your brain does not operate at its best. Being dehydrated can make you feel tired. So, drinking enough water can maintain good energy levels and therefore help you concentrate and work harder.

Better Moods And Emotions

Many people relate drinking an adequate amount of water each day with maintaining high spirits and a positive mood. This may simply be because of the other things we have touched on in this Top 5, including having healthier looking skin, not being sick and losing weight. If all those things are going on, you will feel better. And if water is helping all of those things to happen, then it can be linked to reducing bad moods and even improving mental health.

 

5. Drinking Water Means You Will Be In Better General Health

Well being

Overall health and well being can be improved by drinking water. We have already seen how water can help to first prevent infection and then to fight infection. It helps with skin conditions and makes your brain work better. General health can also be improved by drinking a sufficient amount.

The plumbing

The large intestine absorbs water so having enough in your system can make your digestive system work better. It is less likely that you will become constipated, but even if you are not constipated water can help keep you regular. The key to staying regular is eating fiber and drinking water – don’t forget the water part.

Drinking plenty also helps the kidneys to work better. If you do not, the kidneys will have no choice but to retain fluids for essential bodily functions. With that retained water comes a lot of substances you really do not want in your system.

You see kidneys are great at getting rid of toxins and other things our bodies do not want or need. Plenty of water means they can keep flushing out – and ultimately down the toilet – excess fluids and, along with that, plenty of toxins.

This is a good guide as to whether you are getting enough water: if your urine is dark in color and is smellier than usual, you are not drinking enough water.

Joints and muscles

Muscles are healthier and can become stronger when enough water is consumed. A lot of this is down to oxygen, which muscles need to work. Water carries oxygen to the muscles so can be of help

Joints are those parts of our body that grind and crunch together every time we move. That means they need lubrication to stay strong, flexible and healthy. That moisture and lubricant partly comes from the water we drink.

The heart

As we have discovered earlier, water helps carry oxygen around the body. If you are not drinking enough water, the heart has to work harder to get the oxygen to the parts of the body where it is needed. Water increases the amount of oxygen in your blood so the whole process works much more smoothly, putting your heart under less strain and ensuring all your vital organs get sufficient levels.

Fatigue and energy

Fatigue

A lot of what we have talked about here so far can affect fatigue levels.

You may feel more tired if:

  • You are dehydrated
  • Your heart is working overtime to carry oxygen around your system
  • Your joints are painful
  • Your muscles are tired
  • You are constipated
  • You are in a bad mood
  • You have a headache
  • You feel dizzy
  • You are sick

We know that water can help on all of these points. Therefore, drinking water will give you more energy and you will feel less tired.

Better exercise

Water 3

You lose more water when exercising than by normal every day activities. This is because you sweat more. The longer you exercise, the more water that you will lose. This may cause you to feel dehydrated and therefore fatigued.

This is not a good thing when exercising!

So it is important to drink more water when exercising. All those fluids you have lost will need replaced in order for your body to work properly and the only way to do that is to drink.

Another positive benefit of water while exercising is body temperature regulation. Water helps with this all of the time, but while exercising its effects are amplified.

It is easy to overheat when training, particularly if the session is vigorous or the conditions are warm. Overheating will make you feel fatigued with dramatic effects on muscle weakness. In the most serious situations, overheating can be very damaging to your health. Taking plenty of fluids, particularly water, can help your body control its internal temperature.

It is important to take water before, during and after exercise in order to stay sufficiently hydrated. This will not only help to keep your energy levels up, but it will also reduce the risk of you getting cramps. Dehydration is one of the most common causes of cramps, so to keep them away it is important to drink while exercising.

Other injuries, like sprains, can be helped and prevented if sufficient amounts of water are taken.

If the exercise session is going to be intensive it is recommended that water is taken as much as two hours before hand. During exercise the important thing is to drink regularly in order to replace the lost fluids.

Here is a two minute video that has tips on staying hydrated while running, but many of the tips can be used when doing other types of exercise:

 

The Bonus Round – Tips On Making Sure You Drink Enough Water

So hopefully we have established that it is important to drink water. If you are one of those skim readers who jumps to the end of a page to find the conclusion, here is a recap:

  1. Water helps you lose weight
  2. Water makes your skin healthier
  3. Water helps prevent health infections and other health problems
  4. Makes your brain work better
  5. Drinking water means you will be in better general health

Here is the practical bit then: some help on ensuring you are getting the right amount of water per day. How much should you drink? When? What are the alternatives? Here are the answers.

Remember to drink enough!

300adAbout 1.5 liters of the water you drink every day goes down the toilet when you pee. Another liter is lost through sweating. All of that needs replaced every day. When you exercise or are dehydrated for other reasons, more is lost so more needs replaced.

Not all of the water lost needs replaced by drinking, as some of it gets into your system through the food you eat. About 20 percent of the water you need is supplied through your food.

Vegetables that are more than 90 percent water

  • Bell pepper
  • Broccoli
  • Celery
  • Cucumber
  • Eggplant
  • Pumpkin
  • Radish
  • Spinach
  • Tomato
  • Zucchini

Fruits that are more than 85 percent water

  • Apricot
  • Blueberry
  • Cantaloupe
  • Grapefruit
  • Orange
  • Pineapple
  • Strawberry
  • Watermelon

The rest comes from drinking. Here are the tips

  • Eight cups minimum – the recommended minimum is eight cups of water a day for an adult. That is about 1.5 to 1.75 liters.
  • Aim higher – while eight cups is the minimum, best results can be achieved by drinking 2 liters of water a day, which is 10 to 12 cups. If you are exercising it will have to be even more.
  • Alternatives – Some water will enter your system by drinking other drinks, like soft drinks, tea and coffee. But they are no substitute for water. While they can be included in your general diet, you should drink water more than any other type of drink.
  • Start early – drink a glass of water as soon as you wake up. Do it before you put your clothes on, have breakfast or anything else. This will get you started early.
  • Keep it close – keep a bottle of water with you so you can take sips whenever you get thirsty. If you work in an office, keep a bottle of water on your desk.
  • Taps are good – drink from the tap. It is cheaper and better for the environment. If you carry a bottle around with you as highlighted above, refill it from the tap. If you don’t like the taste of tap water, get a filter – it will be cheaper in the long run.
  • Flavor – some people don’t like the taste of water, so add some flavor  Fresh juice is the best, like lemon juice or a small amount of sugar-free fruit juice.
  • Alarm yourself – that means create alarms, not frighten yourself. Use your phone (if you have an iPhone here is a nice app that helps you track water intake), tablet or computer to create an alarm to remind you to drink a cup of water. This is ideal for those who lead hectic lives (like everyone with young children!).
  • Drink before you eat – drink one cup of water before you eat a meal or a snack. If you have three meals a day and a couple of snacks, that adds up to five cups of water!
  • Drink while you eat – sip another cup of water throughout each of your three meals. That is another three cups! See, it is easy to get to 10 or 12 cups a day!
  • Be regular – don’t wait until you are thirsty to have a drink. It is much better to drink smaller amounts more often.
  • Too much is as bad as not enough – for heaven’s sake, though, don’t drink too much. There is a condition called water intoxication. In very extreme cases this can be fatal. It is rare, but is worth knowing about. Sticking to the guidelines is the best advice.

 

Finally, learn to read your pee. Seriously. If it is dark in color, you are not getting enough water. It should be light and without much of a smell. That will show that you are on the right track and are drinking enough water.

About Kriss Smolka

Top 5 Bin Editor.

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